In Flander’s Fields
By: Puneet Riar, Grade 12
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 – 1918)
A lot of us think of Remembrance Day as a holiday; as a day off from school. This does not even come close to what the true meaning of Remembrance Day is. It is a day to look back, to give thanks to all the lives that died for us, who died for our country and the freedom that we think is a given. When people think of Remembrance Day, they often
, but few know the actual, heart-wrenching feelings behind the simple poem that says so much.
On May 3rd 1915, amidst the bombs and deaths, Canadian lieutenant colonel and physician John McCrae was prompted to write his famous poem, “In Flanders Fields.” The day before he wrote this famous poem, one of McCrae’s closest friends, Lt. Alexis Helmer, was killed while serving and was buried in a makeshift grave. At this time, poppies had begun to grow between the crosses, marking each one. He wrote the poem but threw it away. It was, fortunately, rescued by another office. Unable to save the lives of his friends, he instead gave soldiers a voice through his poem.
The poem is written with the hope of not forgetting. It tells the story of the larks continuing on, even though battles and deaths pursue below them. It reminds us that the dead were actual people and that just a while ago they had felt the wind brush against their skin. Not long ago, they watched the sun set and rise; they were living human beings. Now, their bodies have been absorbed by the Earth. This poem was to remind us that these fallen men were not just statistics in the newspapers, but were husbands, fathers and sons. Also reminding us that we must carry on, and that if we do not succeed, all those brave souls who died will have died for nothing.
Heritage; it’s often said that we, as Canada, don’t have one. As a nation, we’ve seen so many changes, and through Remembrance Day we can witness one of many. World War I changed this country forever in the way that it brought us a sense of unity; a sense that we belonged somewhere. The courageous soldiers fought and died for and on behalf of Canada, and for our independence. It seems to me that our soldier’s sacrifices are slowly being forgotten. We cannot afford to disrespect the soldiers in this way because frankly, we have not done well
by those who gave their youth for us. Lest we forget.